So My Accountant says: “It’s called a ‘hobby’, not a ‘business’ when you don’t make any money!!!”


Pete, Chris & Hugh sharing the love1

Pete, Chris & Hugh sharing the love1

Having a site to buy and sell guitars has always been a labour of love for me. I’ve met some really cool people and had a chance to lay my hands on some pretty cool geetars and amplificators, for sure. First and foremost, I have always tried to facilitate the deal – to make it happen! I experience these acquisitions vicariously through these deals… and maybe I make a little “scratch” along the way. But the big problem with this is that I love the guitars, the people, and the music they make… too much!  And I just love to play…

So I just haven’t made any money for my time and effort!

For Those Who Like To Rock...

For Those Who Like To Rock…

Anyway, I’d just love to stop and tell you about a new/old “game changer” for me, my recent acquisition, my all original 1955 Fender Telecaster, but we’ll do that in the next post. Where was I?… So anyway, once I buy boxes and pay for the website updates, and pay all the costs… ebay, pay pal, Brokerage fees, etc., I found that the balance sheet… well, had NO balance at all!!! And that doesn’t even include my time!!! So I’ve decided to pack in the sales portion of Blue Hugh Music and to expand the Vintage Gallery and Blog over the coming months… so I can still share the love! And, by the way, the email will remain active and you can still contact me at

In winding down the sales portion of the site, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank a few people: Pete F. for the great logo, Robbie F. at Positive E (and the whole gang at Positive E Solutions) for helping me to make this site a reality… and all the “horse traders” who have made it fun… I can’t name ’em all, but I can name a few… PF, Johnny R. from the windswept prairie as of late, Nige, Ronnie D., Tony F., Chris A., Stephen S., Steve “Rigbyburst” R., Mike B. Tony F., Brian and Richard from the sandbar, Jason “Lemmy” L., Todd L’E., AD, Bill MacM., Brent B., Peeter K., Chad Underwood, Dave C., Esse, Gary C., Jordan J., Kim Lafleur, Mark G., Mike Turk, Peter Swanick, Russ L., Ron Ellis, Steve P S, Ed P., Tony B., Charlie Gelber, Matte H., Walter MacM., Claude on GC, and to James N. for that 55 Tele (I did re-fret and pot the neck pickup, Jim), and to anyone I carelessly left out: Thanks, A. Nonymous!

Now on to geetars! … I always wonder about the comparison between great old vintage guitars and amps and the quality new stuff. We are definitely in a Renaissance period with respect to “new builds” – what with all the introspection regarding pickup construction, wood and design analysis, aging techniques, etc. But, dang!, it’s hard to equal a great – should I say “magical”  – old vintage guitar for the tones they create. My personal collection is about 1/2 and 1/2 vintage to newer builds. And just in case I have to hit you with a ballpeen hammer to point you back to the top of this Blog entry to figure it out… I have recently acquired a stunning 1955 Telecaster that plays 10/10 and sounds 11/10!!! Here’s a little eye candy… and I’ll see you on the next post…

Da '55 Telecaster

Da ’55 Telecaster

Nice wiring there, Gloria!

Nice wiring there, Gloria!




The 1968 Fender Telecaster Un-wrapped.

Close up and personal ’68 Tele


Full view of the glorious ’68 Tele

I took a flyer on a 1968 maple necked Telecaster that was on ebay. It’s “all there” (including the original case) … nice vibe… pretty worn. Just a REAL relic in spades! There’s 50s-like neck wear on the nitro fingerboard. A very cool nicotine orange to yellow to white to blonde body. This was a somewhat unexpected purchase… I threw in a low $4500 offer and it was accepted! I received the guitar a couple of days ago, and I must say that this seller should have been a little more careful in his description. There were a few undisclosed issues. The neck pickup was wired out of phase and had a 2.5k DC resistance – indicating a potentially broken/shorted out pickup. The frets didn’t seem like the stated “original frets”…but that’s OK, the slightly larger than stock size wire and perfect condition just saved me a re-fret! I plugged in my “Bri approved” Weller WESD51 soldering station, reheated the neck pickup wires at the pickup… and low and behold, the pickup was fixed!

This guitar, despite my initial disappointment, turned out to be a great Tele! Plugged in, the 7.2k bridge pickup really rocks! Lots of metallic clang and twang, with plenty of output… just fabulous! A winner. The neck plays smoothly due to 45 years of love. The guitar weighs 7.3 lbs – nice and light. The 5.5k neck pickup sounds musical, but it doesn’t seem like the best match for the bridge pickup – a little weak. And it therefore doesn’t give us the best middle position sound either. I’m not opposed to reversible mods – so I took note of the this issue.

It’s interesting how after a while playing around with guitars you sometimes get an intuition about what changes might work, and I immediately thought of the Fralin wound Jim Weider “Big T” neck pickup. It’s got bigger magnets and a moderately low wind for a nice clear, but robust, punchy, and slightly dark tone (at least darker than all those other “tall” neck pickups like the Twisted Tele pickup that Fender makes). So the Big T went in the guitar and it’s “the magic”, the “Shiznitz”! I also replaced the severely corroded switch while I was at it. The ceramic .05mF disk cap was really “on / off”… no taper at all… so given the fact that I’d already done some (reversible) mods to the guitar, I threw in a paper and oil cap of the same value – one of those big, fat gold cylinders. I think they call it a “guitar cap” or something. Wow! Don’t let anyone tell you that all caps of the same value sound the same. The new cap had a very gradual tone roll off with numerous very musical tones built in – a whole rainbow of sounds!

So there you have it! I put ‘er all back together and I’ve been playing this great ‘ole Tele for the last day or so non-stop! Don’t let anyone tell you that great Fender guitars stopped in 1965 when Leo sold the company! This is one GREAT Tele! Compared to my favorite Tele (and I’ve compared my favorite, “keeper” to many others) – a lightweight knockoff Top Loader with a fatty neck – this ‘68 is at least it’s equal… maybe better. Mission accomplished.





Finding Your Voice… The RIGHT Guitar

OK, we’re into serious “guitar geek” territory here. But I am talking to the right people here… “singing to the choir” – as they say. Sometimes I forget that not everyone cares about this stuff! After years and years of listening to me go on and on about this stuff, my wife still got the following question wrong in a game of Trivial Pursuit: “The Les Paul is… (a) a Gibson guitar (b) a Fender guitar.” … so not everyone cares about this stuff!

Bashing out the tunes on a Blues gig

Being a gigging musician (when I can get a gig!), I have a chance to run different rigs all the time, and so I get a chance to hear instruments in a band context as well as in the music room. Obviously, different guitars inspire different playing styles as well as taking one into uncharted musical territory. At a recent “Les Paul Fest”, full of both vintage and modern guitars, I earmarked a certain newish Collector’s Choice “Beast” Les Paul for it’s superior tone (yup, it surprised me a bit that a modern Lester can go toe to toe with vintage wood), and I now own it. I have to say that this guitar is so solid in the mid-range (and clear) that rolling back the treble pickup a tad inspires the country boy in me – no need for a Tele! It is also, surprisingly, is also a fairly aggressive and higher output (for a PAF style set of pickups) guitar. I love it! It takes me where I need to go! It inspires a new voice!

The Beast – a new treat from Gibson

It’s interesting that for many years I used to play Strats and nothing but Strats… now I’m seen with my beloved Underwood Tele, a few Lesters, and my workhorse guitars – the DGTs. I won’t spend any more time on the DGT – I’ve done that in several previous posts, but it should suffice to say that the PRS DGT was NOT the intellectual or instinctive choice for me. But man, it sure scratches my itch!!!

I think it’s also worth saying that an integral part of finding your voice with a guitar is finding the amp that works with a particular model of guitar. For example, my Dr Z “Z Wreck” seems to be the perfect amp for a Telecaster… this is no surprise because the first Z Wrecks were built for Brad Paisley. If you are a Tele-meister, I highly recommend the Z Wreck.

Dakota Red Underwood T – as good as it gets!

Da ‘Most Inspiring’ Z Wreck Amplifier

Check out one of these Z Wrecks with your favourite Telecaster… the “Comfort” and “Speed” switch is very cool… it changes the plate voltage of the output tubes for either a stiffer, cleaner, louder tone or a slightly “browner”, richer, softer tone. No, I don’t sell these amps! And you can’t have mine! 🙂

I recently read something about how: “you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a guitar… and that’s almost the same thing!”. Find your voice or die trying! Life is good!







Do Those Old Tele and Les Paul Bridge Pickup Tones Really Converge?

Nasty, nasty… Broadcaster bridge pickup

Just as nasty… Lester bridge pickup.

The other day I was watching a clip of Joe Walsh, and then I was struck by something he said: “A great old Tele bridge pickup will sound and feel quite close to a great old Les Paul bridge pickup!”. Right on, I thought! (hey, I’m a child of the 70s culture… I still say “right on”… but, fortunately, I no longer say: “solid”). Anyway, this is something that I myself have come around to over the years – a great old bridge PAF in a resonant piece of wood (that doesn’t weigh a ton!) will have single coil articulation and clarity… but with just enough “fur”. A great old Tele in the bridge position will have the same thing – the clarity you would expect, but with a nice microphonic bite, no harsh trebles, and a bit of fatness in the mids and low end.

As far as traditional guitars go right now, I use Les Pauls and Telecasters – and I think there’s no accident there. There is THE CONVERGENCE of these models. Look at the “Rev” – Lesters and Teles (or Esquires)… not a lot of Strat action there. My tone pal (and general all-round pal) “PF” agrees – it always seems to be the measure of a good Les Paul. Particularly in Gibson-land, the Les Paul sort of became something different from the 50s to the 70s and 80s… and not in a good way. A lot of the younger guys seek out the 70s Les Pauls – maybe due to nostalgia or something, but I wouldn’t seek one out. Oh sure, there are “happy accidents” where a great piece of wood came together with an unusually fussy Gibson factory worker, but generally, I believe the thread was lost (although it may have been recently found again).

’52 Les Paul Conversion with some Sweet PAFs

I guess that’s why we seek out “old wood”… and a killer pair of 50s or early 60s humbuckers… we’re not fooled! We know what a Les Paul CAN sound like! Above is my ’52 Gold Top. Converted and reset neck by Russ L. and then a very cool distressed finish by Kim at Historic Makeovers. Oh sure, it has had the mandatory “Gibson smile” (headstock break), but dang if it doesn’t sound a whole lot like my Underwood Broadcaster when I crank it up!

I should really say that this doesn’t mean that there’s no place for a good old Stratocaster… heck, I’ve had a few myself…

Choose Your Weapon!

I’ve been through many, many guitars in my day… and many have been the coveted vintage instruments that are so treasured today. First thing, I should say that we are definitely in the midst of a Golden Age of instrument building! 80% of the higher end guitars are great – plus there are some absolute gems out there! We even have an advantage over the guitars from the 50s in that, these days, rather than just making guitars (like they did in the 50s), builders actually think about the design of what they are building and the effects on tone and playability. I believe that, while they did design guitars in the 50s and 60s, it was more of a “shoot from the hip” approach. I’m one who believes that the big advantage of the “good old days” was the proponderance of old growth, toneful wood stocks. I think we can take a different example – pickups to illustrate the point of “intention” in guitar building. In the early days, it was just a matter of winding a bunch of wire on a magnet. These days, we really think about what makes a great sounding pickup, plus there are many, many different flavours available. And even in the case of old pickups – say PAFs – there are lots of “duff” sounding examples (I know, I’ve owned some!), while there are some amazing sounding ones too! (my ’61 ES-335 has a killer set. But even in the case of pickups, it’s speculated that the materials were of much higher and purer quality. My pickup making pal, Mike Turk, says that he finds it much easier to make a great sounding pickup with old wire, whereas it’s a trickier (but very do-able) proposition with most new wire. The old wire just defaults to a great tone. Let’s take a picture break…I think I’d better throw in some guitar porn … so here’s a vintage treat for ya…

A pair of Gibson ES-355s from the early 60s.

Now in meandering ’round to my point, I can safely say that lots of new guitars have found their way into my Classic Rock band. I still have a few great vintage instruments, but most of what I play is from this century! For example, somehow, the Paul Reed Smith DGT “found me”. I feel like those guitars found me rather than the reverse. I’ve never been a huge PRS fan – and they have all come and gone – at least until the DGT! I have 3 and a 4th on the way! Great pickups that sound like over-wound PAFs, great (the best, actually, IMHO) coil taps (3/4 taps – 1-1/2 coils), 2 volumes for easy blending, super-smooth playing, a traditional trem that stays perfectly in tune for me, uber-resonant all mahogany or maple topped mahogany body, plus a comfy clubby medium rounded neck profile with big frets – what’s not to like!? Here are my 3:

3 Paul Reed Smith DGTs Relaxin’ – 2 Standards and a Maple Top Gold Top.

I also play a great 1 pickup Les Paul that was recently built for guitar man Jimmy Wallace. I have one other Les Paul… a black wrap-tail Custom (recent build) with humbuckers and a ’55 style “V” neck… lightweight at only 8.3lbs …add a couple of Underwood Teles and a Relic Strat (all my vintage Fender stuff is gone)… plus a 1960 one pickup single cutaway Melody Maker for slide… that’s about it… But I can’t really play the Strat after the DGTs… a traditional Strat trem just dosn’t cut the mustard after a DGT trem…

Oh yes, I do still have the Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird Billy Bo that is part of the banner on my site (beautifully designed by guitar player extraordinaire and artiste Pete Faragher)… the one that Mr. Dave Connery of Connery’s Custom Paint pinstriped… BTW that guitar has been modded to death… big stainless frets, TV Jones Filtertrons, added Bigsby,… and of course, the added paint. I love that guitar! 🙂

Fragment of a Billy Bo geetar

Have You Heard The “Gristle King”?

There are some guitar players who just inspire one to pick up the guitar and play… and then there are the kind who make one say: “why do I even bother?”. Jeeze, I don’t want to sound negative, but Greg Koch is one of the second kind… he’s just a “savant” – and he is not only a technical master, he plays with humour, and musicality! Greg Koch is “on the radar” alot these days – perhaps because, other than being a “Fender Official Clinician”, he’s just done a whole whack of on-line guitar demo videos for Wildwood Guitars… and a bunch of shows with Joe Bonamassa. You just have to watch this youtube video… the Led Zeppelin stuff is hilarious. Mercy! The sounds Mr. Koch gets out of his Fender Telecaster! (he unabashedly refers to himself as “Greg Cock” – rather than taking  the easy way out and pronouncing it like it’s spelled… “Koch”). Just check this out…

Oh my!!! Steve Vai hailed Koch as a genius… I love that Tele tone! Really edgey and nasty. Certainly not “thin” – a potential pitfall for those of us who fancy the first production solid body. When Koch spanks the plank you get the feeling that there’s nothing he can’t do – and on a Tele too!!! What’s with that? If you’ve never thought about a “B Bender”, Koch might inspire you to go in that direction. Recently, I’ve been spending at least a 1/2 hour to an hour every day just working on my banjo rolls – pick and 2 fingers – with the logic that, while perhaps not immediately applicable to my playing, it can’t hurt. It will certainly increase the facility of my right hand – even while playing Albert King licks. I think Greg Koch is a testament to that theory. He’s got a bitchin’ right hand roll that he seems to have incorporated heavily into much of what he plays.

I encourage you to check out Greg Koch futher. I find him to be such a musical player – even though he has a ton of technique. Oh ya… I love what Greg Koch says about Eric Clapton… and I am paraphrasing here: “even if Clapton hasn’t learned a new lick since 1979, his foundation as a player is so musical – look at the Beano album and Cream and the Dominoes – that he can still play a few notes and it’s better than someone who can play 32nd notes with precision…”. Given what Koch is capable of, I have to respect his opinion as an educated opinion with alot of weight.




The One Pickup Esquire Can Work!

So I get this really great lightweight (6.4lbs of swamp ash goodness!), big necked beast of an Esquire off of one of the Forums, and it turns out that someone formerly had a neck pickup in there. In order to “restore” the guitar, apparently the solution was to simply remove the neck pickup and replace the Esquire pickguard. We all know that Teles and Esquires were all cut the same way – with potential for a neck pickup if you replace the pickguard…

Anyway, the guitar didn’t work because Esquires are just not wired the same way! Solution: I set about to find a useable wiring schematic for an Esquire. Seymour Duncan has a great resource, but there are lots of other ones on the web. Back in the early 50s, an Esquire was wired with an “always on” .047 micro farad cap in the 1st position (or sometimes 2 of them!), a working tone pot in position 2 with the same value cap and then a straight through “no cap, no tone pot load” in the back position of the switch.

I could discuss the merits of caps of different voltages and different types – ceramic disk vs paper in oil, for example… let’s just say that there is a difference (contrary to what some people will say) and you want an audio cap of a higher voltage – in my experience.

So, in wiring this Esquire, the main thing is to get the “always on” cap to be usable – rather than the bassy muffled tone of the older Esquires. I used a nice .047 paper in oil cap for the tone control setting – where we can control the amount of tone roll off – but for the “always on” position, I used a .0047 cap – note the extra zero! Using a .0033 cap is also popular, but the point is to get a lesser treble roll off – so it’ll be great for rhythm playing! The other thing… since you don’t have to remove the strings to swap caps, I simply left the control plate open and in seconds auditioned several different caps.

A few caps from my vintage stash!

There’s a diagram on the web that showed me how to wire this guitar so that the tone control was active in the back postion of the switch and the middle was the straight through pickup. This I like!


Esquire New Pickup Day

Esquire pickup day…

The magnificent Chad Underwood Esquire…

The back end of two fat necked siblings. Esquire/Broadcaster.

Had a Lollar Special in there…

Nice pickup with a nice blend of twang and fatness…


So I tried the Duncan Custom Shop BG-1400 It’s a stacked Humbucker … fairly high output… I was hopeful… the Rev uses them…

I thought it lacked liveliness and not enough highs… but then again that’s what I think about the pickups in the Billy Bo (I replaced them in mine with Filtertrons)

But I do LOVE Duncan’s Custom Tapped ’53 Tele set with a 9k/6k bridge pickup – Jeff Beck used ‘em on Guitar Shop – they’re in my Underwood Tele.

Anyway, back to the Esquire… I finally tried a Don Mare Model #0038 pickup(wound with the same guage wire as the oldest Broadcasters and lap steel pickups – a little thinner wire)… it specs at a whopping 12.5k DC resistance… I figured it would suffer in the highs and twang department… NOT SO… fat and twang! Quite nasty… LIVELY too!

That’s what stays in!!!